Finally I found a bit of time to get back into setting up another system of mine – the legendary Amiga 3000. To me the Amiga 3000 always stands out as the most beautiful Amiga in so many ways – but back in the days, I started out with an A500, later got an A1200 – and ended up with a nice A4000/EC030 as my daily driver. The A3000 was still something special to me, maybe the fact that it was so well thought out with build in scandoubler, SCSI controller, 030 with MMU/FPU – and just being a rock solid work horse.
Looking back, I guess my A4000 was still the best choice for me when it came out, as it had AGA, 72 pins memory upgrade, IDE controller for cheaper HD and the chassis were a bit bigger so it could host a CDROM as well.
Anyway, my lovely A3000 which I aquired many years ago originates from software house in Germany. I could never have revealed which one, and the machine was almost mint condition when I got it; HDD had been wiped totally, so I couldn’t find any old data on it unfortunately. My guess is that it was probably coming from MaXon as the guy I bought it from was related to them. So it has a German keyboard, but the keyboard is so amazing to type on that I don’t really mind 🙂
… but it was time to fix it up a bit! So for a few days I had the front panel, keyboard and mouse sunbathing in the Danish sun to remove some of the yellowing; and it works very well, the yellowing is completely gone. I also did a deep clean of the keyboard, removing all key caps and washing it all gently. It was not really dirty, but, it had been in use for a while back in Germany so I wanted to really make it shine again 🙂
The system is equipped with Kickstart 3.1, WB 3.1, 2MB CHIP RAM, 6MB FAST RAM and I added a A2286 Bridgeboard, a 3COM 3C905B ISA PC Network Card and it currently hosts a VLAB grabber card too.. but that will be replaced by a BigRAM Memory Upgrade from Individual Computers in the near future…
Next step was to change the PSU fan, and it was pretty much the same procedure as with my Amiga 2000 fan exchange earlier this year. I am using the same type of BeQuiet! 80cm fan as in the A2000, and opened up the A3000 and gently removed the old fan which was connected via a plug to the cable soldered onto the PSU – so no cutting, simply just disconnected it from the plug. I connected the new fan via a fan to standard power molex splitter cable/adapter which I bought separately to avoid cutting and soldering the new fan on. Turning on the system forced me to check if the fan was spinning, because it was completely silent…. but yes, it spins, yes it does take out some air, and yes the system has been running stable for a week non-stop since 🙂
Also it was time to let the original old Seagate SCSI drive go to sleep. The noise from it was really terrible, and although it is a bit of the charming part to hear these old systems spin up it also kills my mood to use them sitting in all that noise… so.. it was time to connect a SCSI2SD instead.
Setting up the SCSI2SD is pretty easy, I set it up to use 2 SCSI ID’s using an USB cable and a PC (4 is possible) which would let the Amiga believe it was 2 physical harddrives in HDTOOLBOX. I added a 16GB SD Card, knowing that I won’t really be able to use this under OS3.1 and I won’t be needing it either. I configured HDTOOLBOX creating 4 partitions of 1GB each. I could add one or two more SCSI ID’s and utilize a bit more of the card, but for now I decided it is fine like this.
I transfered the OS from the SCSI disk to SCSI2SD – not that anything important was there, it was a pretty clean install, but it was quick to copy it instead of installing from floppy again. Next thing I installed the Bridgeboard, which took a bit longer. Since the A2286 does not allow the usage of Amiga floppy drives on the PC side I either had to connect a 3.5″ PC floppydrive straight to the A2286 for the initial install or use for example PC-Task emulator. I decided to create the virtual harddrive file first, connect a PC floppy, and install it with a plain DOS 6.22, and also added the necessary Janus tools and software… or so I thought.. At some point after the system had been closed again and the PC floppy was gone I found I was missing some of the tools. Instead of opening the Amiga again and fiddling around with cables I used PC Task emulator to boot with my virtual HD file and could then use the Amiga floppydrive to read the missing files and copy them to the virtual HD file used by the Bridgeboard.. luckily they are compatible 🙂
I then had to add the Etherbridge software for the PC side aswell – I had that on my Amiga harddisk, so I simply used the Bridgeboard/Janus command “aread” to copy the folder “Etherbridge” from my Amiga Work: partition to a Janus folder on my virtual HD drive:
aread work:etherbridge/ c:\janus /b
.. after that it was pretty easy to set up, but the guy who created Etherbridge also did a nice visual guide (in German, but you can pretty much follow it fine just by watching) which I can recommend to check out:
It did not work at first. It tested OK in the Etherbridge software on the Amiga side, but nothing else worked. After a few hours I found that my 3COM card was set to use the AUI port. I had one AUI to RJ45 adapter which I connected, and “Hello World!” – it worked 🙂
I went searching high and low to find a DOS tool for the 3COM card, as I remember from the good old days that you could configure them using a DOS tool. And yes. I found the 3C5X9X tool on the Wayback machine taking me back to good old 3COM’s old website.. and here you have it:
Unzip it to your Amiga drive, and use the AREAD command again to get it to your virtual HD on the bridgeboard side. If you have a PC floppy drive you can ofcourse also store it on a floppy disk on your PC, and then use the Amiga with Crossdos (move PC0: from storage/dosdrivers to devs/dosdrivers) to let the Amiga read PC floppies.
With the tool available within the bridgeboard software, you just need to run 3C5X9PD.exe from DOS – and you can configure the 3COM card. I set it up to be optimized for DOS and I set it up to use the RJ45 port and not the AUI port. I could toss away the AUI to RJ45 adapter again.. now it works directly plugged in 🙂
It is a bit overkill using a bridgeboard “just for ethernet” – but I already had the stuff, and instead of spending alot of money on an Amiga network card this was a more fun solution to make it work.
After I got the network up and running, I installed Roadshop TCP/IP stack and AmiFTP. With that in place, I could download all the needed stuff I wanted from my NAS directly to the Amiga. I would use a PC to download it to the NAS initially as browsing and file downloading is way faster this way.
… ofcourse many people would probably have prepared the SD card and all this I did just using WinUAE, but I like to try and get things done on the original hardware as much as possible, just for the fun of it 🙂
Currently the system is now running with WB3.1 with “BetterWB” on top, which is a really neat little package just adding some stuff saving myself a bit of time to do it manually:
I also installed good old MagicWB to have those lovely classic icons which really gave us a “wooow!” experience back in the days when it just came out. It looks retro, but it still looks pretty cool.. albeit it does slow down the system a bit. This entire setup with the bridgeboard, etherbridge and just a few tools open really eats up alot of memory. I wonder how it was possible for me to use my A1200 with just 2Mb CHIP for so many things back then.. but probably it was less bloated with fancy stuff I guess..
I transfered alot from WHDload to it – demos and a bunch of games – and added Tinylauncher to the startup-sequence. This way I can use the A3000 to enjoy some games/demos, or just push ESC and boot straight into Workbench and play a bit around.
I have installed just a few extra essential software packages such as Final Writer, Pagestream, Scala MM400, Bars’n’Pipes, Protracker, Deluxe Paint which can demonstrate the power of the A3000 quite well.
Now my A3000 is a really fine peace of silent workstation, it does need the extra memory which I am waiting for in order to be more useful.. and no, I probably won’t really be using it for anything productive but I still want it to be lean and mean with enough memory.. because it deserves it 🙂